Overcoming Smartphone Photography Limits: 10 Tips
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 7 min read


  1. Optimize Camera Settings
  2. Use Grid Lines for Better Composition
  3. Maximize Natural Light
  4. Avoid Digital Zoom
  5. Experiment with Focus
  6. Use Third-Party Apps
  7. Embrace Negative Space
  8. Try Different Perspectives
  9. Practice Photo Editing
  10. Clean Your Lens Regularly

If you're like me, you probably love capturing special moments with your phone camera. However, overcoming limitations of smartphone photography can sometimes feel like scaling a mountain. Don't worry! With a dash of patience, and these 10 practical tips, you'll be taking top-notch photos in no time.

Optimize Camera Settings

Ever wondered why your photos don't quite match up to those glossy shots you see on Instagram? The secret sauce often lies in the camera settings. It's not about having a high-end phone; it's about using what you've got to its full potential.

  • Resolution matters: Start off by setting your camera to the highest resolution possible. Higher resolution means more pixels, and more pixels mean clearer, more detailed photos.
  • Color Balance: Adjusting the color balance can make a world of difference. This setting helps your camera understand what "white" looks like under different lighting conditions, ensuring that the colors in your photos are as accurate as possible.
  • Exposure Control: Playing around with exposure settings can help you control how light or dark your photos turn out. Remember, too much light can wash out your photo, while too little can make it look murky.

Overcoming limitations of smartphone photography is as much about knowing your equipment as it is about having an eye for a great shot. So, don't be shy — get to know your camera settings, play around, and see what works best for you!

Use Grid Lines for Better Composition

Now, let's talk composition — the way elements in a photo align and interact with each other. This is where grid lines come in handy. They can guide you to frame your shots more effectively, leading to professional-looking results.

  • Rule of Thirds: Ever wonder why some photos just look "right"? It's often thanks to a classic principle called the Rule of Thirds. Imagine your photo divided into nine equal parts by two equally spaced horizontal lines and two equally spaced vertical lines. The idea is to place key elements along these lines, or at their intersections. It's an easy but powerful way to make your photos look more balanced and eye-catching.
  • Centering: Center your main subject for symmetrical compositions. This works especially well for portraits and close-ups! But remember, rules are meant to be broken. Don’t be afraid to try different compositions to see what works for your shot.

Grid lines might seem like a small detail, but they're incredibly helpful for overcoming limitations of smartphone photography. So, next time you're lining up a shot, give them a try!

Maximize Natural Light

The difference between a good photo and a great one often comes down to lighting. For most smartphone photographers, the best source of light is also the most natural one — the sun.

  • Golden Hours: Ever heard of the golden hours? These are the first hour after sunrise and the last hour before sunset. During these times, the sun is low in the sky, producing a soft, warm, diffused light. It's the perfect time for capturing stunning landscapes or dramatic portraits.
  • Shade: Shooting in direct sunlight can lead to harsh shadows and overexposed photos. If it's the middle of the day and the sun is high, find a shady spot. This will give your photos more even lighting and make them look more professional.

Remember, overcoming limitations of smartphone photography is not always about having the top-of-the-line gear. Sometimes, all you need is to harness the power of natural light. So next time, instead of reaching for your flash, try to make the most of what Mother Nature has to offer.

Avoid Digital Zoom

When it comes to overcoming limitations of smartphone photography, one of the most common mistakes people make is relying on digital zoom. Sure, it might seem like a good idea when you're trying to get a close-up shot of that cute squirrel in the park, but hold on! Digital zoom can often lead to pixelated or blurry images.

So, what should you do instead? Here are a couple of suggestions:

  • Move Closer: When possible, physically moving closer to your subject is the best option. This way, you can maintain the quality of your image and still get that close-up shot you wanted.
  • Crop Later: If you can't get closer, take the photo from where you are and then crop it later. This might mean your final image is smaller, but it will be much clearer than if you'd used digital zoom.

By being mindful of how you use your smartphone's features, you can take steps towards overcoming limitations of smartphone photography and capturing photos that are sharp and clear. Remember, the best camera is the one you have with you, but how you use it can make all the difference.

Experiment with Focus

Let's chat about focus. The focus of your photo can dramatically change the feel of the image, and it's one of the key ways to overcome limitations of smartphone photography. Your smartphone's automatic focus is pretty good, but it's not always spot on. So, why not take control?

  • Tap to Focus: Did you know you can tap on the area of the image you want to focus on? This tip sounds simple, but it's a game changer. By manually adjusting the focus, you make sure the important parts of your photo are crisp and clear.
  • Play with Depth: Exploring depth of field can add a professional touch to your images. By focusing on an object up close, you can blur the background, creating a beautiful 'bokeh' effect that makes your subject pop.

By actively controlling your smartphone's focus, you're not just taking a snapshot—you're creating a photograph. So go ahead, experiment with focus and see how it enhances your smartphone photography skills.

Use Third-Party Apps

Let's face it: built-in camera apps might not always cut it when it comes to overcoming the limitations of smartphone photography. Here's where third-party apps come in handy.

  • Manual Controls: Want more control over your shots? Apps like ProCam provide a DSLR-like experience with manual tuning of ISO, shutter speed, and white balance. This level of control can turn a good shot into a great one.
  • Special Effects: Looking for something more creative? Apps like Snapseed or VSCO offer a world of filters and effects to give your photos a unique look.

Remember, the right third-party app can help you push the boundaries of what’s possible with smartphone photography. Don't be afraid to explore—your Instagram followers will thank you!

Embrace Negative Space

One of the best ways of overcoming limitations of smartphone photography is by embracing negative space. What is negative space you ask? It's the area around and between the main subjects of your image. When used properly, it can transform an ordinary photo into a captivating masterpiece.

How can you use it? It's simple:

  • Highlight Your Subject: By using a minimalist background, you allow your subject to shine. This draws the viewer's attention directly to where you want it—on your focal point.
  • Create Balance: Negative space can complement your main subject, creating a balanced composition. This helps your photo feel less cluttered and more pleasing to the eye.

So remember, when it comes to smartphone photography, less can often be more. By embracing negative space, you can create photos that stand out from the crowd!

Try Different Perspectives

Another interesting way to overcome limitations of smartphone photography is to try different perspectives. Now, what does that mean? It means changing the angle or the point of view from which you take your photos.

Here's how you can do it:

  • Go Low: Most people take photos from eye level. But you can make your photos more interesting by taking them from a lower angle. It gives the viewer a fresh view of the world, and it can make your subject look bigger and more powerful.
  • Go High: On the other hand, taking photos from a higher angle can make your subject look smaller, but it can also show more of the surroundings. It's a great way to capture landscapes or cityscapes with your smartphone.

So, the next time you're taking a photo with your smartphone, don't just stick to the usual perspective. Experiment with different angles and points of view. You might be surprised at how much more interesting your photos can become!

Practice Photo Editing

So, you've taken a bunch of pictures, tried different perspectives and used natural light to your advantage. What's next in overcoming limitations of smartphone photography? That's where photo editing comes in.

Editing your photos can help enhance their quality and make them look more professional. This doesn't mean you have to make drastic changes; sometimes, a simple tweak can make a big difference. Here are some things you can do:

  1. Brightness and Contrast: Adjusting these can help bring out the details in your photos. If your photos look a bit dull, try increasing the brightness and contrast.
  2. Color Saturation: This tool can make the colors in your photos pop. But be careful not to overdo it; you don't want your photos to look unrealistic.
  3. Cropping: This is a simple but effective way to improve the composition of your photos. It can help you remove unnecessary elements from the frame and focus on the subject.

Remember, the key to good editing is practice. So, don't be afraid to experiment and try out different things. In time, you'll get the hang of it and be able to bring out the best in your smartphone photos!

Clean Your Lens Regularly

Your smartphone goes through a lot in a day. It's in your hands, your pockets, on tables, and sometimes, even on the floor. All of this can cause your camera lens to get dirty or smudged, affecting the quality of your photos. So, how can we overcome this limitation of smartphone photography?

Cleaning your lens regularly is the answer!

Now, you might think, "But I wipe it with my shirt all the time!" Well, while that may remove visible smudges, it doesn't necessarily clean your lens properly. A dirty lens can lead to blurry, hazy, or dusty photos.

Here are a few simple steps to ensure your lens is always clean:

  1. Use a Microfiber Cloth: This is the same type of cloth used for cleaning glasses. It's soft, and it doesn't scratch your lens or leave lint behind.
  2. Don't Use Harsh Chemicals: Avoid cleaning your lens with things like window cleaner. They can damage the lens coating. Instead, if needed, dampen your microfiber cloth with a little water.
  3. Clean Regularly: Make it a habit to clean your lens at least once a day, especially before you start clicking pictures.

Just like you'd clean a DSLR camera lens, cleaning your smartphone lens can significantly enhance the quality of your photos. It's a simple but effective step in overcoming limitations of smartphone photography.

If you're eager to take your smartphone photography skills to the next level, be sure to check out Alina Rudya's workshop, 'Smartphone Photography 101.' This workshop will provide you with even more tips and techniques for overcoming the limitations of smartphone photography and capturing stunning images right from your pocket.